Challenge of change
After a tense few days, a tentative compromise may have been reached between officials from the Communist Party of China and journalists at the progressive Southern Weekend newspaper in the standoff over censorship. Yet, the protests
that galvanised hundreds of people to demonstrate outside the Guangzhou-based weekly's headquarters presented new CPC leader Xi Jinping with his first major political crisis — one that marked a rare display of public anger and the roots of which, the current settlement notwithstanding, could be less than easy to resolve.
The furore began when provincial propaganda officials intervened to alter a New Year's editorial in Southern Weekend — also known as Southern Weekly — that called for restraints on the party's powers. What appeared, instead, was a bland endorsement of party policy. Then, staff wrote an open letter to the propaganda department, asking that the high-ranking official responsible for the heavy-handed censorship resign. Subsequently, journalists went on strike in an expression of solidarity and, aided by the country's popular Twitter-like service, Weibo, supporters showed up calling for media freedom and an end to government censorship.